JCPA chief prods Clinton on boycott

A Jewish organizational leader pressed Hillary Clinton on whether the United States should participate in the Beijing Olympics.

Rabbi Steve Gutow, the executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, questioned Clinton at a candidates forum Sunday in rural Pennsylvania before a gathering of faith leaders. U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the other leading contender for the Democratic presidential nod, was featured at a later session at Messiah College, a Christian school.

Gutow said China has persecuted the people of Tibet, leading to recent riots, and helped finance the genocide in Darfur because China is the region’s largest supplier of weapons and buyer of Sudanese oil.

“Let’s just say China is not doing all it can to stop the genocide in Darfur,” he said, according to a transcript of the forum. “You have said that America needs to return to being a moral voice of the world. Is our participation in the Beijing Olympics harmful to that moral voice?”

Clinton, who last week called for President Bush to sit out the opening ceremony of the Games this summer in protest, largely avoided the question and reiterated her request to Bush.

“I would urge the president at least to consider and, therefore, publicly say that he will not be attending the opening ceremonies,” the U.S. senator from New York said. “And let’s see whether the Chinese government begins to respond because that for them would be a great loss of face and perhaps we would get more cooperation.”

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